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The North Koreanification of Canadian political reporting

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has won the world’s heart and broken the internet by proving he’s “not just a pretty face” (in the words of Britain’s Daily Mail) and “the man of your dreams” (in the words of Vanity Fair). Foreign reporters are drawing these conclusions based on Canadian reports that the PM launched into an impromptu soliloquy on quantum computing during a press conference yesterday, in which he dressed down a condescending reporter who apparently considered him too stupid to understand the technology.

This is how the Toronto Star reported the episode, for example (headline: “PM shows off knowledge of quantum computing”):

On the chalkboard behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., on Friday, were equations sufficient to give anyone who struggled in high school math horrors for a lifetime.

Then an inquiring reporter, covering Trudeau’s reannouncement of the recent federal budget’s $50-million allocation for Perimeter, inadvertently led with his chin.

“I was going to ask you to explain quantum computing, but . . . ,” the reporter said before asking a question about Canada’s role in defeating Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The man who has been called Canada’s new heartthrob, yoga hotshot, feminist PM — apparently eager to show he’s more than a now globally recognized pretty face — promptly showed he has computer-geek talents previously little known.

“OK, quite simply, normal computers work by . . . ,” Trudeau said to laughter and applause.

“No, no, don’t interrupt me, when you walk out of here you will know more — well no, some of you will know far less — about quantum computing,” he continued.

“A regular computer bit is either a one or a zero, either on or off. A quantum state can be much more complex than that, because as we know, things can be both particle and wave at the same time and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller computer.”

“So that’s what’s exciting about quantum computing,” he said as the crowd erupted into sustained applause.

You can read some version of this story just about anywhere at the moment. It is extraordinarily good press for the Prime Minister, given the man has long struggled with accusations he is an intellectual lightweight. It has also helped overshadow various unpleasantries he would rather not be talking about at the moment, including his government’s assisted-suicide legislation and, as the Star story notes, Canada’s ambiguous role in the war on ISIS.

So anyway, here is what actually happened.

On Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics located in Waterloo, Ontario. After a tour, he staged a brief photo op with some scientists and gave a short speech about how his government believes in funding science yada yada. Then, at one point he said this:

“You don’t have to be a geek like me to appreciate how important this work is. Although I have to tell you, when we get to the media questions later I’m really hoping people ask me how quantum computing works because I was excited to deepen my knowledge of that this morning.”

Click here to see a link to the relevant snippet of the speech on the Perimeter Institute’s YouTube channel.

Eventually we did get to the media questions. The first one went like this:

REPORTER: Morning sir, I was going to ask you to explain quantum computing but.. [trails off as audience laughs] When do you expect Canada’s ISIL mission to begin again and are we not doing anything in the interim while we prepare?

PM TRUDEAU: ‘Kay, very simply, normal computers work by….

And that was that.

So, to summarize, the PM went to a place and learned about a thing. During the speech that followed, he excitedly suggested he wanted to talk about the thing he just learned. A reporter was disinterested in playing along, and tried to ask a more relevant question, but Trudeau ignored him and launched into what was clearly a pre-prepared treatise on the thing.

In the reporting that followed, the Canadian media deliberately and pointedly did not place Trudeau’s verbal essay on quantum computing in the context in which it occurred. They instead chose to present the story in a fashion that would ensure maximum PR benefit to the prime minister — namely, this idea that Trudeau confidently called the bluff of a patronizing reporter.

To put it another way, the Canadian media has actually reversed the realities of the story 180 degrees. What is being falsely presented as a story of a scrappy prime minister resisting a hostile press is actually a story of a slavishly subservient press who are actively shaping their reporting to suit the government’s needs.

It is a disgrace.

 




^ 63 Comments...

  1. @MGaudet34

    I puked a whole bunch in my mouth just now

  2. Brad

    Good story! Well researched and well written.

  3. @daweiman

    Thanks for the explanation.

  4. @midshine

    apparently Trudeau did go on to answer the question on ISIL though as well, so that should be mentioned. The journalist has said he answered the question.

  5. @midshine

    apparently Trudeau did go on to answer the question on ISIL though as well, so that should be mentioned. The journalist has said he answered the question.

  6. jimmythesuitguy

    oh here we go again, the big blogger lobby trying to smack down the little guy. grass roots has no chance with people like you – jimmy the suit guy.

  7. @tRPShow

    Good God I feel like an idiot! I bought this so completely, and shared it out exactly as was planned. Ugh!

  8. @tRPShow

    Good God I feel like an idiot! I bought this so completely, and shared it out exactly as was planned. Ugh!

  9. Steve Holt

    I fucking knew it! Our PM is really a retard!

  10. J.J. McCullough

    "What happened with Trudeau happened under Harper every single damn day"

    I do not remember any moments in which Harper was given wall-to-wall praise for his genius in response to giving a rehearsed answer about some irrelevant topic.

  11. Brian Cyr

    Poor JJ. Still mad from the drubbing your real korean-like leader took. The man who only tool 5, pre approved questions and gave answers rehearsed for hours.
    And you call this news?
    Trudeau knows more about quantum computing than you know about journalism or people.
    Cons are angry people, simply put.

  12. Brian Cyr

    Poor JJ. Still mad from the drubbing your real korean-like leader took. The man who only tool 5, pre approved questions and gave answers rehearsed for hours.
    And you call this news?
    Trudeau knows more about quantum computing than you know about journalism or people.
    Cons are angry people, simply put.

  13. Brian Cyr

    Poor JJ. Still mad from the drubbing your real korean-like leader took. The man who only tool 5, pre approved questions and gave answers rehearsed for hours.
    And you call this news?
    Trudeau knows more about quantum computing than you know about journalism or people.
    Cons are angry people, simply put.

  14. Mike Bieling

    More Tory sour grapes, yawn. Get over it and pick a leader other than the clueless Rona. It was your ever-secretive beloved leader Steve that resembled the North Korean dictator..

  15. Mike Bieling

    More Tory sour grapes, yawn. Get over it and pick a leader other than the clueless Rona. It was your ever-secretive beloved leader Steve that resembled the North Korean dictator..

  16. DanLond

    From a different perspective, and irrespective of who is being reported, should we the unwashed electorate expect that, in our supposedly democratic society, a "free press" be held accountable for truthful reporting (as opposed to opinion) content?

  17. sudbury

    Why do Turdo lovers always revert back to Harper? Stand on your own two feet and stop comparing. Weak, weak, weak.

  18. Dave Winfield

    Wow! I havent read all the comments…have you shared your insightful piece with the Rebel media?. your work deserves a stage…..and they have an audience, albeit not the size that it should be….
    Great work…….when I read the canned media report, I smelled a rat, but didnt have any other info to confirm. Thanks for this…..

  19. Bdl

    What we need is media actually reporting news, not making it

  20. Val

    I knew this story stunk like bullshit. the response Given by Trudeau was a Wikipedia level introduction to the concept. this is not a difficult thing to explain or understand in that form. the same understanding someone who knows they are presenting to a media circus would employ. The fact that this has been spent 180 degrees is no surprise Trudeau is a photo opportunity. nothing more this is a base level of corruption I have come to expect from the Canadian liberals and the media that kisses his ass. Embarrassed to be a Canadian these days

  21. Guest

    JJ
    I have recently learned that two things happen when you point out to the public that they have been lied to:
    1. Some people will thank you for letting them know,
    2. Some people will attack you for pointing out the deception.
    I have never understood those in the second camp. It seems to me that you can get mad at the person who lied to you, or you can get mad at the person who points out the lie. I know which makes more sense to me.

  22. Diane Kallaar

    I agree, you know it was rehearsed if for that reason only.

  23. cobbiangrant

    Justin and Bernie will be leading a more open and social North America for years to come, and the conservative republican rich will fight with every stolen nickle!!!

  24. Guest

    Yup, leftist detected.

    Unleash the hounds.

  25. danieljeyn

    Dammit, Canada! Get it together. With a potential Clinton/Trump election, a lot of us Yanks are considering applying for refugee status in 2017 to get away from corrupt state media. The wife and I are already learning metric and the French verses to "Oh, Canada." The gentrification of Winnipeg begins.

  26. Gaffer

    You are right! We are stupid for electing him. I feel like moving to some other country where the electorate are smarter. Got any suggestions?

  27. Osumashi Kinyobe

    A blithering late response that provided nothing new nor had any serious political or moral vigor that an answer to a belated question required.

    Pretty weak.

    Once again, more time was spent showing everyone how great the popular press thought Trudeau was.

  28. Dave Hardy

    What Skippy was demonstrating was his ability to memorize short sentences. He is first & foremost an actor, brought out for the cameras & put away in the closet when the adults want to talk.

  29. captrjd

    One is no better than the other. The thing is the media will soon tire of these ridiculous antics and then the destruction of the image will start. Pride goes before the fall, I am told.

  30. Janus

    Maybe because weakness or stupidity was displayed?

  31. David

    His dad taught hime well! :) This is political obfuscation brilliantly handled. :)

  32. David

    His dad taught hime well! :) This is political obfuscation brilliantly handled. :)

  33. Guest

    This story made headlines all the way over here in Australia.
    And it was portrayed just like JJ said – see the brilliant, young, handsome JT smack down an upstart reporter with his awe-inspiring knowledge of Quantum Computing.
    Nowhere was it reported here that he had just been given a briefing on the topic and specifically asked reporters to ask him about the topic.

  34. Sophie

    Press has definitely been fauning over the adored object for some time. How does one get a free pass go when the deficit is 3x what you promised? The same pundits willing to give Trudeau "the benefit of the doubt" would have crucified Harper.

  35. Osumashi Kinyobe

    Wrong.

    He was a failed substitute drama teacher.

    Had Trudeau been a math teacher, he would still be one and you would have supplied evidence of that.

    By "old ways", do you mean telling the truth?

  36. deadforweeks

    Hey at least he clarified and warned that "…well some of you will learn less"

    Good disclaimer, thanks, albeit understated at best

  37. Anonymous

    >Appeal to popularity
    >Appeal to youth
    >Appeal to the current year

    Millennials are imbeciles.

  38. Goku

    Put the bong down and try again.

  39. Jon

    uuuuuuuuuuugh to you

  40. Glyn

    You mean after he incorrectly explained quantum computing…

  41. Glyn

    Another homophobe crawls out of the gutter….have fun at your Nazi rally later tonight.

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  43. Jason

    Thanks for your explanation. This makes it much easier to understand.

  44. Jason

    Thanks for your explanation. This makes it much easier to understand.

  45. freegames

    It an explanatory report…

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